Voices From The Lake premiered last year with the 4-track Silent Drops EP – a bit of tongue-in-cheek posturing from Italian techno producers, Donato Dozzy and Neel who’ve carried on with the Voices moniker, stopping off to thoroughly decimate Dozzy’s usual launch pad for his slippery brand of ambient techno at Labyrinth Festival in Japan where much of their eponymous full-length debut was first revealed. Despite Voices From The Lake’s meteoric, 6-month rise as a duo to most of the dance music community’s attention, its the material itself that’s helped its rapid ascension become the stuff of quaint, archetypal legend. The name was coined in 2010 by Neel – title to a mix of introverted deep house infused techno that seemed to plop onto the MNML SSGS blogspot from nowhere. Dozzy, alternately, released his solo debut, the excellent K, on Further Records in 2010 and isn’t stranger to working with other producers, releasing a number of collaborative singles and EPs on a revolving door of labels including his own since ’04. Voices From The Lake, however, is a landmark endeavor for both producers.
Voices From The Lake is built like an extremely subtle and patient live set; a time lapse of slowly blooming, intricately lined flora, its creases and curves becoming more and more detailed and beautiful as the changes become exceedingly smaller and acute. It’s not difficult to understand why these seventy-two minutes are linked to an outdoor festival in Japan. As a whole, the record exists as a panoramic array of organic, sensory hypnosis like golden peels of light weaving in shafts around an evergreen forest and its piney scent, the whisper of vital noise flitting in feint waves on all sides all filtered through a thickly obfuscated dream-logic. As a listener, its absorption becomes womb-like and preternatural, lulling in its rhythmic, hyper-natural atmosphere until it exists at once as a singular, cocooning blanket and a minutely sculpted, dimly-colored aural abstract.
The album feels less birthed from manipulative hands and rather from outward-reaching, serotonin-addled mental-tendrils. It works outward from within rather the vice versa, its pervasive, cavernous synths wrapped around distant tidal ebbs and shuttering percussive whispers sliding down the stereo field like pent up moisture on dank marble walls. The album glides from one texture to the next with an almost subconscious grace. It’s one of the first dance records I’ve listened to all year that feels nearly impossible to track in all its various layers and intricacies. Its outer regions seem to not exist at all, their thickly coated synth textures so all-consuming and constant it’s hard not to feel completely swallowed. Its middle-distance has a cosmologically-scaled complexity, rhythm and ambience dancing together and apart with the patience of embryonic galaxies. The pulsing kick and intricately programmed patters that often crop up between can feel like the record’s only graspable elements, yet they remain somehow unobtrusive and unconscious, as if the whole monolithic pallet is simply willed into a constant 4/4.
Tracks like “In Glova” and “Twins In Vergo (Reprise)” do provide some tangible, mechanical melody within the swirl of the record’s otherwise abstracted landscapes. “S.T.” is an especially resonate track. After twenty minutes of distant maneuvering its drooped four-chord synth melody slides into place with all the relative force of a sock to the mouth, or, more accurately, a few fingers gently squeezing your cranium. It’s accompanied by some reverberating dub propulsions and distant vocal crests before an assertive kick locks in and we’re suddenly listening to some honest-to-god techno. Voices From The Lake is so effortlessly constructed, even when its paid enough mind to pick its exhausting complexity apart, it still just pours itself from the speakers. It’s rare that we get a record in this genre that manages to straddle the aggressive intricacy of techno and the singular, aural mindscaping of long-form ambient music, but Voices From The Lake does that and then reinvents that. The Italian duo have put together a timeless and beautiful dance record that slides easily to the top of 2012’s best.